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Farm Aid concert to highlight

Mlssouri independent pork farmers


BYLINE

By Katie Maupin

DECK

EXCERPT

The Farm Aid concertis coming to St. Louis Oct. 4, highlighting their relationship
rvith Columbia-basedMissouri Rural Crisis Center.

COLUMBIA - Two strangersstruck up more than conversationon a train bound for


Champagne,Ill., more than zo yearsago.

CarolynMugar, newly appointedexecutivedirector of EafqlArd, and RogerAllison,


the founder of a budding grassrootsorganizationknown as the Missouri Rural Crisis
Center,met on a train bound for the first Farm Aid concertin September1985.While
conversing,they learnedthey sharedsimilar beliefsabout the direction the
agriculttiral industry should be heading.

Their friendship led to a lasting relationshipbetweenthe crisis center and Farm Aid.
More than zo yearsand $r4o,ooo worth of Farm Aid grantslater, the
Columbia-basedMissouri Rural Crisis Centerand Farm Aid still sharethe same
ideals.

"I haveworkedwith thosefolks for ages,and I'm more than proud," Mugar said.

Last year alone lFarmAid granted $486,6Soto 7r family farm organizationsincluding


Since
$7,5ooto Missouri Rural Crisis Center,accordingto ithe!f'ar:mAklq lA,ielr*sitg.
its first concert,Farm Aid has distributed nearly $g6 million to grassroots
organizations,Mugar said.Willie Nelson,a Farm Aid organizerand countrymusic
performer, has highlighted issuesfacing rural communitiesand the Missouri Rural
CrisisCenterduring his trips to Columbia.

On Oct.4,theFarm Aid concertis stoppingin Missourifor the first time


""4-tbg
g"*"Utr-_---j---r rural crisis center is helping get ready for the big event.This year's
--re
concsltiine-up includes:Willie Nelson,John Mellencamp,Neil Young,Gretchen
Wilson,JasonMraz and many more. Supportersof the crisiscenterare excited
becausenot only will big-name entertainmentbe taking the stage,but farm policy
issuesand sandwichesmade bv the center'sPatchn'orkFamily Farms r,r,illsharethe
print Articfe I I ...
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"They Llsethe stage and an incredible array of artists to highlight the issues we care
abollt," Rhonda Perry, a crisis center employee, said.

At the Farm Aid concert in St. Louis on Sunday the Missouri Rural Crisis
Center and supporters plan to sell 3,ooo pounds of Patchwork Family Farms pork
raisedbylocalproducersmst"g.T

"It really createsgreat opportunities for Farm Aid to highiight not only Patchwork
Family Farmsbut alsofamily farmers," Perry said

Togetherit takes more than z5 volunteersto prepare and serve"the best pork
sandwichespeoplehave ever put in their mouths," Allison, the crisis centerfounder,
said.

While ffin. Farm Aid concertsserveas a fund-raiser for organizationssuch as the


crisis center,but Allison said!that'snot all it's abouQit's also a good opportunity to get
the crisis center'smessageout.

The Missouri Rural Crisis Centerhas five main programs,i*U-gil*tti.h havebeen


helpedby funding by Farm Aid grants.The programsincludeffi a ilh$actory farm
farm and food policy project, a S$food cooperative
organizingproject,i*lh-gla
program, u Wlo.ul food initiative and PatchrvorkFamilv l"arms.

PatchworkFamily Farms is composedof 15Missouri family hog farms, accordingto


the group'sWeb site.

The crisis center'sfactory farm organizingproject is responsiblefor passinglegislation


in Missouri that would make it harder for concentratedanimal feedingoperationsor
CAFOsto be built. Accordingto the center's\Arebsite. the objectiveis to challengethe
industrialization of the livestockindustry and promote independentfamily farms.

Perry said the farm and food policy project usesthe democraticprocessto help
independentproducersvoicetheir views and concerns.

The crisis center and Farm Aid have similar stands[[ on farm policy, shesaid.These
include supporting "fair prices"where the producer is paid the cost of production,
speakingout againstgeneticallymodified organismsand fighting for competition
policiesthat ensurea fair, open and competitivemarket place.

Farm Aid encourageslocal food and an environmentallyfriendly way of farming.

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The crisis center has taken a mlrch different stance on farm policy compared to
commodity groups, such as the state corn growers association or catlleman's
association. Don Nikodim of the Missogli Pcx:kAssociation said his group supports
internationai trade and large-scale feeding operations that the crisis center c*+lls
facton' fat'ttts.

"They want to cail them factory farms to put them in a negativelight," Nikodim said.
"I grew up raising pigs subjectto the whims of Mother Nature and she can be pretty
cruel."

He said that while not all farmers are "independent"- meaningthat they own their
entire operation rather than operatingon contracts- they havefamilies regardlessof
the businessmodel.

Mary Hendrickso", ffi ivfUtlssistant professorof rural sociologyat MU Extension,I


the different views in farm policy come from different focuses.
Cm"l,--_----trlgfrtlsaid

"The Missouri Rural Crisis Centeris focusedon farmers and not commodity specific
policies,"she said. "They are not representingthe pork industry or the corn industry -
they are representingindependentfamily farmers; it's just a different foclls."
F
Hendricksonsaid the crisis centerhas "fought for bette, terms, counseled
I

"r"dit
farmers facing financial problemsand translatedthose issuesinto policy wins at the
federallevel.The Missouri Rural Crisis Centerworked on making sure environmental
programs and subsidiesbenefit independentfamily farmers."

The center'sfood cooperativeprogramreaches4oo to 5oo low-incomefamiliesper


month in zr rural countiesand provideslocally gro\,vnfood to them, Perry said.

The local food initiative is the crisis center'snewestprogram. In collaborationwith


MU,m..".'i*ia1ffithecenterishe1pingtobring1ocal1ygror,l,nfood
to KansasCity, mid-Missouri and St. Louis. Hendricksonhas collaboratedr'r'iththe
center on various locally grown food projectsthroughout the last decade.

and are very knon4edgeableabout the opportunitiesin the local


"They do great r,r,'ork
food arenaas well as the challengesfor farmers,"shesaid.

Perry said PatchworkFamily Farms rewardspork producerswith a "fair price" for


raising their hogsfree of hormones,grouth promoters,sub-therapeuticantibiotics,

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9121109.5:46
iLi,QfSiruf.Denise(lvlU-Sludent) Sunday.September27. 2OO9s:4ti:36PM CT
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which are low continllolrsdosesof antibioticsto keep animalsheaithy.The pigs must


alsohave accessto sunshineand fresh air.

Matt Beach,a fifth-generationfarmer from Leonard,marketssome of his pigs using


the PatchworkFamily Farmslabel. He said that presentlyPatchu'orkFamily Farms
paysabouta $25 per headmore than market price fbr hogsraisedoutside,the way his
family alrvayshas.While raising hogs outdoorscan be iabor intensive,Beachsaid,
there is a cheaperoverheadand the PatchworkFamily Farms premium helps him
break evenduring tough times.

"They understandthe problemswith raising hogs outdoors," Beachsaid. "I wish


everyonein the swine industry was so easyto work with."

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center,but Allison said that's not all it's about

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